We continue with simple principles to avoid various forms of cancer, but in today’s Straight, No Chaser, we add some detail about the what’s and whys of the conversation. The areas bolded represent summary actions for your benefit.
Take Charge of Your Intake
1. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is a nutritious approach to reducing your cancer risks. Adopt these principles.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans. No, there is not evidence that cancer supplements reduce cancer risks.
- Avoid obesity. Avoid high calorie foods such as refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
- Limit red meats (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meats. Embrace chicken, seafood and legumes instead.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Alcohol intake is associated with multiple forms of cancer, including breast, colon, kidney, liver and lung. Your risk increases with regular intake, the duration of intake and the amount you drink. Practice moderation in general and limit yourself to two drinks a day (if your male; women should limit themselves to one a day) in most settings to obtain a variety of health benefits, including cancer risk reduction.
2. Don’t use tobacco
It is one of the oddest human behaviors to purposely infuse smoke into the area of your body meant to deliver air to the rest of your body, and this is true for cigarettes and cigars. Smoking nearly screams cancer risk; it is linked to cancers of the bladder, cervix, kidney, larynx, lung, mouth, pancreas and throat. Even secondhand smoke exposure is linked to an increased link with lung cancer. Chewing tobacco is associated with cancers of the oral cavity and pancreas. Tobacco is your true “just say no” drug. This is simple. If you don’t smoke, avoid it. If you do smoke, stop.
Take Charge of Your Actions
3. Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active
A healthy weight is defined by your heart, not your appearance. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, kidney, lung and prostate. If you want an amount of activity to use as a target, as a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your day. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity is ideal.
4. Protect yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer. Just be smart about your exposure. Avoid tanning beds, sunlamps, and midday sun. Seek out shade, cover yourself, wear bright or dark colors to reflect the suns rays away and use sunscreen.
5. Avoid risky behaviors
We’ll let rock and roll off the hook, but sex and drugs have direct links to cancer.
- Practice safe sex. If you’re not practicing safe sex (by using condoms, abstinence or at least limiting your number of sexual partners), you are more likely to contract HPV and/or HIV. The links of HPV and cancer are noted above; the links of HIV include a higher risk of cancer of the anus, lung and liver.
- Don’t share needles. Anyone injecting themselves with needles for illicit drug use should be considered a high risk for HIV and/or hepatitis. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to those diseases. Hepatitis from IV drug use carries an increased risk of liver cancer.
Take Charge of Your Health Maintenance
6. Get immunized
There are two specific immunizations that have definite benefit in cancer prevention.
- Immunize against Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. If you are sexually polygamous, have a sexually transmitted infection, are an IV drug user, a healthcare, public safety or other worker who might be exposed to blood or body fluids or are a male who has sex with other men, you are a strong candidate for immunization.
- Immunize against HPV (Human papillomavirus). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. It is also available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn’t have the vaccine as adolescents. Universal application of the HPV virus would virtually eliminate cervical cancer.
7. Get regular medical care
Learn to screen. Learn to self-exam yourself. Commit to regular evaluations. Even if you don’t prevent cancer, early detection gives you the very best chance of recovery after treatment.
Your health is your choice. Balance your life decisions in a way that allows you to enjoy yourself to the fullest while lowering your risks for cancer. Implementation of these tips will get you there. All things considered, this isn’t very much for you to commit to doing, particularly when you consider the benefits of doing so.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
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